Average hourly pay
The main facts and figures show that:
- in 2017, the average (median) hourly pay for White people was £11.34, which was 10p higher than the average hourly pay for people from all other ethnic groups combined
- people from the Indian ethnic group had the highest hourly pay on average earning £13.14, while people from the Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic groups earned the lowest, at £9.52 on average
- people from all ethnic groups except for Indian had a lower average hourly pay level than those from the White ethnic group
- between 2013 and 2017, people from the Indian ethnic group had the highest average hourly pay out of all ethnic groups in 4 out of 5 years, while Pakistani and Bangladeshi people consistently had the lowest
Things you need to know
The data comes from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), an employment study of the UK population.
Employees are asked to report their hourly rates of pay as part of the survey. If an individual is not available for interview, someone else in the same household may answer on their behalf.
Using self-reported answers carries a risk of error. As a result, the LFS is known to underestimate the rates of gross weekly and hourly pay.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) excludes estimates of earnings greater than £100 per hour when it publishes results based on the LFS. Such high values are not very common, so excluding them allows the survey to give more accurate estimates of hourly pay for the wider population.
Respondents to this survey are interviewed 5 times – once every 3 months – but are only asked about their hourly pay in the first and last of these interviews. For this reason, ONS recommends that any estimate of change is made with caution.
Median hourly pay is presented in the chart, tables and commentary. For each ethnic group, if every respondent was lined up in the order of their hourly pay, the median would be the hourly pay of the person in the middle. Using the median as a measure of average pay prevents very high and very low values, which may not give an accurate representation of hourly pay, distorting the figures. However, it is less reliable for ethnic groups where there were small numbers of respondents.
Data showing average hourly pay using the mean (rather than median) is available in the download file. Where some employees have much higher incomes than others in the same ethnic group, the mean hourly pay for that ethnic group will be higher, and as a result may not accurately represent the pay of the less well-paid employees in that group.
Employees’ pay reflects factors besides ethnicity, such as the industry they work in and their occupation, qualifications, experience and seniority.
Ethnicity is not known for 0.05% of respondents. The data for people whose ethnicity is not known is not presented, however they are included when calculating the figure for ‘all’ ethnicity.
What the data measures
This data measures the average (median) gross hourly pay for all employees aged 16 and over in the UK.
‘Gross hourly pay’ is an employee’s hourly pay before any deductions for things like tax and National Insurance.
The ethnic categories used in this data
The analysis uses the following broad ethnic categories, based on the 2001 Census:
- Other (which includes Chinese, Other Asian and Other ethnic groups)
This analysis distinguishes between the Indian ethnic group, and the Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups (which are combined). This reflects the different employment-related outcomes among different Asian ethnic groups, and is in line with other publications on the official labour market statistics website, Nomis.
Average hourly pay by ethnicity
Average hourly pay by ethnicity over time
|Ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities)||10.07||10.12||10.12||10.69||11.24|
|Other inc Chinese and Other Asian||9.77||9.81||9.88||10.78||11.05|
- overall, the average (median) hourly pay in 2017 was £11.31, compared with £10.48 in 2013
- in 2017, Indian people had the highest average hourly pay (at £13.14), while Pakistani and Bangladeshi employees had the lowest (at £9.52) – a difference of £3.62 an hour
- the gap between the average hourly pay of people from the Indian ethnic group and those from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups was wider in 2017 than in 2013 (when the gap was £3.02 an hour)
- people from the White ethnic group had a higher average hourly pay level than those from all other ethnic groups except for Indian
- between 2013 and 2017, the average hourly pay for people from the Indian ethnic group was the highest out of all ethnic groups in 4 out of 5 years, while the average hourly pay for people from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups was consistently the lowest
The data gives estimates of earnings based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Annual figures for the hourly pay of ethnic groups are provided here by taking a four-quarter average of estimates from the LFS.
This analysis uses the median to report average hourly pay; mean hourly pay figures are available in the download file. For each ethnic group, if every respondent was lined up in the order of their hourly pay, the median would be the hourly pay of the person in the middle. The mean is worked out by adding up the hourly pay of all respondents and dividing by the number of respondents.
The choice of the 'mean' as a measure of average hourly pay is affected by ‘extreme’ values which may not reflect some of the lower paid people in each ethnic group. ONS has taken steps to reduce this impact particularly where values over £100 may have been given in error. Using the 'median' as a measure of average pay mitigates against extreme values. However, as with the mean, it is less reliable for ethnic groups where there were small numbers of respondents.
The data on employees’ earnings captured by the LFS is thought to be of a lower quality than other sources, such as the Annual Survey of Hours and Earning (ASHE) and the Average Weekly Earnings survey (AWE). This is because employees report the information themselves rather than their employers. However, this analysis uses LFS data because neither ASHE nor AWE collect data on employees’ ethnicity.
The LFS has been held continuously since 1992. It is designed to produce nationally representative results for any 3-month period.
The sample consists of approximately 40,000 UK households and 100,000 individuals per quarter. Respondents are interviewed 5 times at 3-monthly intervals and 20% of the sample is replaced every quarter. Respondents are only asked about their pay in the first and last of these interviews. The response rate for October to December 2017 was 43%.
All surveys carry the risk of biased results if some people are less likely to respond than others. To compensate for this, the responses to this survey have been weighted so they better reflect characteristics of the target population. The weighting scheme was designed so that the sample reflects the target population's age and sex profile, as well as its geographic spread (region and local authority).
Suppression rules and disclosure control
Sample sizes of less than 30 have been suppressed.
Results above £100 an hour have been excluded because they affect the quality of the data.
‘Suppression’ means these figures have not been included in the data, to protect confidentiality and because the numbers involved are too small to draw any reliable conclusions.
Figures have been rounded to the nearest pence.Quality and methodology information
Type of data
Type of statistic
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Purpose of data source
The main purpose of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is to provide good quality estimates about the UK workforce. It’s the largest household study in the UK in terms of how many people it’s sent to and how in depth the questions are. It provides the official measures of employment and unemployment.
The survey measures all aspects of people's work, including:
- the education and training needed to equip them for work
- features of their jobs
- unemployment and jobseeking
- income from work and benefits
Download the data
Ethnicity, year, median hourly pay, mean hourly pay, denominator (weighted)